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Online insult mars Freenetnames launch

Users trying to register are greeted with bizarre message

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Updated Net users who tried to register with Freenetnames, the UK's newest subscription-free ISP, were greeted today with the words: "Sorry, I don't like you." The offending page, in simple black on white text, was hurriedly whipped down at lunchtime today but that won't have prevented hundreds -- if not thousands -- of Net users from reading the offending words. It's not known yet whether this was an inside job at Internet Technology Group (ITG), which is behind the Freenetnames ISP, or whether the site was broken into and hacked. "We have not suffered a security breach," said Rhian Ball of ITG. "All our logs are complete and reflect what is expected: no data is missing. Our security measures would have detected an attempted intrusion at the earliest stages and this has not occurred," she added. Which means the appearance of the insult "Sorry, I don't like you" remains a mystery. Happily for ITG, the site now appears to be up and running. All well and god, but ITG has still been left with egg on its face. It has spent a fortune on blanket advertising today in the national press and on radio to promote the service. There can be little doubt that being forced to deal with such a clanger on its opening day will come as acute embarrassment to one of the UK's leading Net companies. Freenetnames claims it is the "only complete Internet package to offer a free domain name, free Internet access, free technical support and free Web space". By eliminating what is typically a £100 fee, and automating the registration process, individual users should find it simpler to create their own Web identity on the Internet, it claims. In a statement prepared before it encountered the online banana skin, Laurence Blackall, chief executive of ITG, said: "The biggest challenge to subscription free ISPs has been shown to be retaining users. "We feel that the combination of award winning service, a lifetime identity and a free helpdesk will be a compelling offer to both new users and existing users of subscription free services," he said. The Register reckons the biggest challenge to subscription free ISPs is delivering what they promise. ®

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